By Osa Okhomina,Yenagoa
Officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Bayelsa State Government and the Nigerian Army have kept mum over the Friday citizen seizure of five tankers suspected to be conveying crude oil from allegedly stolen from Tein community in Biseni, Yenagoa Local Government area of the state to an unknown destination.
Tempers flared yesterday between angry indigenes of Biseni Community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and some armed soldiers over the decision of the youths and women to block the passage of five fully loaded oil tankers suspected to be conveying stolen crude oil from Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Agip pipelines in the area.
According to a chief in Biseni community, Justus Bekesu, the suspicious movement of heavy duty oil tankers into the community started last week and as concerned citizens they decided to block the trucks and challenged them on the content.
“Last week Sunday, April 25, 2021, we saw tankers coming out of Biseni forest where both SPDC and Agip drill crude oil from. Suspecting foul play our youths stopped them and asked what was contained in the tankers”.
“They claimed it is water mixed with chemical and they claimed that due to its toxic nature and in order not to cause damage to the environment, they were taking it to a safe place for proper disposal. But our youths insisted that they wanted to confirm if what they were saying was true”.
He said further that a check by the head of the safe environment advocacy group, the Environmental Right Action (ERA), Comrade Morris Alagoa, showed that five days after the scuffle over the content of the truck and the citizen seizure, relevant authorities have refused to comment or seek investigation and evacuation of the stolen crude.
According to Alagoa, “This morning, at about 6:00 am, I left Yenagoa to Biseni to see things for myself in the tradition of ERA/FoEN; as seeing is more effective than hearing from afar. Yes, I can confirm that the said tankers are still there in Tein, Biseni. And, the youths are expecting the right things to be done.
“The relevant agencies of Government should take steps to get this issue addressed because, according to the youths; Biseni people are not bunkerers and neither are they known for pipeline vandalism. And, I agree with them, as most of the oil spill incidents in the Biseni environment are due to equipment failure; not third party interference”.
He noted that “ordinarily, by now officials of the Bayelsa State Government, even the Governor would have been at the scene of incident; Biseni. If it were to be that it was Biseni people caught loading crude oil out; it might have made more news and the State and Federal Government would have made related statements condemning the act. But, in the case, strangers, with the aid of men on military uniform are the ones trying to take Crude oil in tankers away from Biseni environment.
“Biseni is one of the oil rich kingdoms in Bayelsa State. Two major Oil Companies operating in the environment are Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC). Crude oil and gas are exploited 24/7 and piped to Rivers State. While NOAC is sending the exploited resources from Biseni to Idu community in Onelga in Rivers State, Shell is sending same to JK4 (Edagberi/Beterland), in Ahoada West local government area of Rivers State.
“Incidentally, not much is seen in the environment as dividends from the resources taken from the environment. Not even the presence of NDDC could be seen; talk less of 13% Derivation. The Bayelsa State Government should rise to the occasion in support of the Biseni people,” he said.
According to one of the leaders of the Youths, Sarah Pere, ‘’We are now doing the job of the Civil Defense, Police and Military; they are the ones who ought to ensure such things don’t happen. Our action is in line with government’s position, to prevent such crimes. If we don’t act this way, they might turn around tomorrow and accuse us of engaging in economic sabotage.’’